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Low Horses 


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Low Horses 

Written By: Len Cullum 


Adjustable square (1) 
Hammer (1) 
Handsaw (1) 
Sharp chisel (1) 

Fancy 2" x 4" x 8' (1) 


Constructed using a two by four and a couple of hand tools, low horses are cheap and easy 
to build. Anything will do, but hardwoods like oak or hickory are best. When choosing your 
wood, always choose the clearest and straightest lumber available. The most important 
element is line connecting. Working both sides at an angle to create a peak in the center, 
and then gradually reducing the peak to a flat. This approach will give you much more 
control and cleaner, more accurate results 

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Low Horses 

Step 1 — Preparing the Parts 

• Start by breaking the two by four 
down into its parts (four 8" long 
legs and two 22" long beams). 

Step 2 — Layout 

• Use half-lap joints to join the legs to the beam. Precision is important, so take your time. 

• Find the center by measuring a leg in from each end, and the center of its thickness using 
the other leg. 

• Place one leg on the other with center lines together and then mark to either side. It's 
easier to make the mark by adjusting the square to the length and marking from it. 

• Transfer the line to the other three, both on the edge and about 1/2" down either side. 
These are the shoulder lines. 

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Low Horses 

Step 3 — Layout (Continued) 

• On the beams, mark a line 2" in from either end and 1/2" down either side. Place a leg 
against the line and mark its thickness. Transfer that line as well. Set the square for 1/2' 
and connect all of the pairs of lines. 

Step 4 — Saw 

• With hand saw, cut on the inside of each shoulder line down to the 1/2" line. To be safe, 
stay a little further inside the lines. Make extra relief cuts on joints with a flat area wider 
than 1" to make chiseling out the waste easier and help keep the bottom flat. 

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Low Horses 

Step 5 — Chisel 

• Start removing wood from the joint with a sharp chisel and hammer. Work at an angle 
removing about 1/8" at a time to create a slope to the other side. 

• When you get near the line, flip the piece over and chop from the other side until you reach 
that line. 

• Carefully shave away the rest using lighter paring cuts until the bottom is flat. 

• Work from both sides and check the bottom for square when you are done. 

Step 6 — Chisel (continued) 

• Letter or number each leg to a corresponding joint on the beams. 

• Working one joint at a time, trim one side right to the line, but don't trim the line away. This 
is called "saving the line." 

• Hold the end of the corresponding leg in place and check the layout line. If it doesn't match 
up, redraw it. Trim to the line then repeat the process on the other half of the joint. 

• When both halves of the cut are done, fit them together. The fit should be snug, requiring 
no more than a few light hammer taps to seat it. 

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Low Horses 

Step 7 — Make 'Em Pretty 

• Functionally, the horse is done, but take it a step further and design them. 

• You can begin by making a pattern on a piece of card stock and then transferring it to both 
sides of each leg. You can use a regular handsaw to get rid of the waste and then chisel 
away the rest. 

Step 8 — Make 'Em Pretty (continued) 

• Staying back from the pattern lines, saw out a notch to remove the bulk between the 

• Now make a cut across the points. 

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Low Horses 

Step 9 — Make 'Em Pretty (continued) 

• Using a sharp chisel, trim along the edges at an angle to the pattern lines. 

• When both sides are trimmed, pare away the wood in-between, leaving just a bit of the 
angled edge intact. 

• Clamping the leg to a bench is highly recommended. Be patient and take light shavings. 
Step 10 — Make 'Em Pretty (continued) 

• Make a relief in the bottom of each leg to create feet. Measure 2" in from each end and 
about 1/4" deep. 

• Using the same method as the half-laps, saw to the lines and chisel away the rest. 

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Low Horses 

Step 11 — Make 'Em Pretty (continued) 

• Use a chisel (or knife or sandpaper) to remove all of the sharp corners. 

• Avoid the areas near the joints. 

Step 12 — The Glue-Up 

• Apply some glue to all of the joint surfaces and put them together. 

• Place them on a flat surface with weight on them while they dry. If your joints are a little 
loose, you can use epoxy or some other gap filling glue. Foaming, polyurethane glues, like 
Gorilla glue, work well. 

• For even more strength, use a 3/8" diameter 4" deep dowel through the bottom of each 

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Low Horses 

Step 13 — The Glue-Up (continued) 

• Sand them smooth and apply 
finish. You can use double stick 
tape to add a strip of cedar to the 
top of the horses to protect them, 
and whatever you place on them, 
from damage. 

• And there you have it! All that's left 
now is to put them to use. And this 
relatively simple project makes a 
great present for a woodworking 

This document was last generated on 2012-1 1-01 11 :1 0:1 7 PM. 

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